BYU Bans Y Mountain Protests After Pro-LGBTQ Demonstration
Brigham Young University (BYU) announced a ban on protest actions on the famous Y Mountain landmark overlooking the school. The move comes one year after pro-LGBTQ activists lit the concrete Y on the mountain in rainbow colors to coincide with an on-campus action in support of the university’s LGBTQ students.
The announcement came as part of a wider revision of the school’s demonstration policy released last month that prohibits protest actions from occurring “within university buildings, near places where minors and other vulnerable populations are present … and locations where safety is at risk, including university-owned portions of Y Mountain.”
The new policy doesn’t mention last year’s LGBTQ demonstration on the mountain. It does, however, outline “content standards” for on-campus demonstrations. Under those standards, protests “must not seriously and adversely affect the university mission or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints” if seeking school approval. It further specifies that on-campus actions cannot “contradict or oppose” Mormon doctrine or policy, “deliberately attack or deride” the Church or its leaders or violate the Church’s honor code.
Gay BYU graduate Bradley Talbot, who organized the first rainbow light Y Mountain display in 2020 while attending the university, called the news a “scare tactic” by the school. “I’m not intimidated by it,” he told the Salt Lake Tribune. “BYU has always been more afraid of me than I have of them, and I think this is further evidence of that.”
The Church modified its honor code in Feb. 2020, removing a section forbidding “homosexual behavior,” but announced one month later that it still classified same-sex relationships and sexual activity as “not compatible” with BYU rules.
BYU spokesperson Carri Jenkins said that the Y Mountain decision was motivated by a desire to keep people safe, noting that the trail up to the landmark is steep. “[That] is certainly a concern, as well as having people comply with our policies while on university property.”
France Ends Gay Men Blood Donation Ban
The French government announced the end of its policy prohibiting men that are sexually active with same-sex partners from donating blood Tuesday.
French Health Minister Oliver Véran highlighted the news on Twitter, saying that blood donation screening surveys will no longer include references to sexual orientation beginning in March. According to Le Parisien, people wishing to donate blood will be required to report if they are being treated for HIV or HIV prevention in addition to recent sexual activity and drug use. “We are ending an inequality that was no longer justified,” said Véran.
France now joins Italy, Hungary and Spain as a European nation that has lifted such a ban dating back to the early 1980s and the AIDS epidemic.
Clay Aiken Announces Second Congressional Run
Former “American Idol” star Clay Aiken is making another run at the U.S. House of Representatives in North Carolina, announcing his second bid to become the first out gay congressperson in the state’s history on Monday.
Aiken previously ran for the position in 2014, securing the Democratic nomination before ultimately falling to Rep. Renee Ellmers. His recognition as a reality TV and music industry figure have allowed him to remain active in LGBTQ advocacy in his home state, and redistricting puts him at a better chance of succeeding should he emerge from a crowded primary field.
The Raleigh native stated that rising instances of homophobia and racism in North Carolina were a motivating factor for giving politics another shot. “Just think how excited these guys are going to be when we elect the South’s first gay congressman,” Aiken said in his first campaign video.
The guys he refers to are Rep. Madison Cawthorn and North Carolina Lt. Governor Mark Robinson, whose pictures appear in the background of the video along with rainbow Pride flags. Aiken called Cawthorn a “white nationalist” and Robinson a “hateful homophobe” in the video. “If the loudest and most hateful voices think they’re going to speak for us, just tell them I’m warming up the old vocal chords,” Aiken added.
Aiken joins seven other Democrats running in the primary for the 6th Congressional District seat held by retiring Rep. David Price, which will be held in May. According to local news outlet WRAL, the winner of the Democratic primary is all but guaranteed to win the seat after districts were redrawn following the 2020 Census.
BYU Bans Protests: Previously on Towleroad
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